A wind up flashlight is a versatile piece of gear that makes a great addition to any camping or emergency supplies stockpile. It can be a little overwhelming when searching for a light because there are so many to choose from. There are very few stand alone lights and they all seem to have different features.
In the rest of this review, I’ll share which flashlights I think have the best functionality and help you choose the best light for your needs. Wind up flashlights are also sometimes referred to as hand crank flashlights, but don’t get confused, they’re one and the same.
Obviously, in most circumstances when you need a flashlight, a bright battery powered flashlight is the most convenient option. The problem is it’s not always practical, and it’s definitely not sustainable for long periods of time.
For example, say a hurricane hits, you might lose power for weeks. Most people don’t have enough batteries for all their small electronics to last the entire duration of the power outage. In this example, having a mechanical flashlight or solar flashlight would be ideal.
Below the list of hand crank devices, I’ll show you some good hand crank alternatives that I think you might like.
- Here Are the Best Hand Crank Flashlights in 2020
- Other Options
- ThorFire LED Camping Lantern Flashlight (with USB Charger)
- Dorcy 41 Battery Powered Emergency Flashlight
- OxyLED Diving Flashlight (Solar Powered)
- Futuresky 6 in 1 Life Saver (Best Flashlight for Car)
- Red Cross Blackout Buddy (Emergency Nightlight)
- Streamlight Nano Light (Keychain Flashlight)
- Aennon LED Light (Headlamp)
- ECOCentricNOW (Shake Flashlight)
Here Are the Best Hand Crank Flashlights in 2020
1. Lifelight Crank Light (Best for Car)
Estimated Price: $40
My Review: The Lifelight Emergency Flashlight has a lot of features and can really be thought of as a multipurpose tool.
It has a lot of features that make it perfect for a car emergency kit. let’s look at some of its functions below.
Window breaker: If your car becomes submerged in water, you may not be able to open the doors or windows. Having a tool in your car to break the window could save your life.
Seatbelt Cutter: If you get into a situation where a seatbelt lock malfunctions, having a tool right there able to cut it quickly could save your life or the life of a loved one.
Compass: This is a flashlight with a compass, making a great flashlight for hiking. While you’re walking on a trail or road, you’ll be able to maintain your heading and not get lost.
USB Cell Phone Charger: Having a flashlight with a phone charger is very convenient. Throw it in your backpack and you won’t have to worry about your phone battery dying, which is especially nice if you’re using your phone for navigation.
2. Thorfire Hand Crank and Solar Combo (Best Value)
Estimated Price: $19
My Review: For less than 20 dollars you get a highly capable solar and hand-crank flashlight. This is not the end all be all survival flashlight, but it does serve its purpose and will help you find your way in a power outage or emergency.
The company says that one minute of cranking will generate enough power to run the flashlight for one hour, but in my experience cranking only generates enough power to run the flashlight for about 5 minutes. Still not bad for an inexpensive hand crank device.
The flashlight has a waterproof rating of IPX6, meaning it is submersible up to 45 feet. Not bad for under $20!
It’s made of plastic but actually feels well built. It has LED bulb that is fairly bright for a hand crank and solar device, just don’t expect the brightness of a battery-powered device.
My only real complaint is that there is no indicator on the device that lets you know it is charging or how much battery power is left.
3. Kaito KA500 5-way Powered Solar Power (Best Features)
Estimated Price: $50
My Review: This is a heck of a lot more than just a hand crank flashlight, but for the money, it does have a lot of great features and the LED flashlight itself is pretty good too!
It has many power options, including hand crank, solar, AA batteries (not included), USB, 5V AC/DC input with a wall adapter (sold separately), and a built-in replaceable rechargeable battery pack.
The radio itself is pretty good and gives you access to AM/FM radio and 7 NOAA weather channels for weather updates, talk shows, sports, and breaking news.
It does have a lot of additional features including a 5V USB port for charging phones and other electronics during emergencies, a 5-LED reading lamp, and a red SOS beacon light
The Telescopic antenna extends up to 14.5″ for high good signal and sound quality.
All in all, it’s durable, highly functional, and perfect for emergencies.
4. Compass Culture Hand Crank Device
Estimated Price: $40
My Review: This is a handy NAOO emergency radio with AM/FM radio and 7 NOAA Weather Channels that will keep you up to date should a hurricane or other emergency strike. my favorite thing about this hand crank flashlight/radio is that it has 4 power options (solar, hand crank, USB, and batteries).
When fully charged, there is enough power to run the light for 15 hours or radio for 6 depending on the charging method. You also get a 2000 mAh power bank that will allow you to charge your cell phone or other devices in a pinch, just keep in mind this is not a practical charging method.
The company includes some bonus survival tools like a compass, whistle, fire starter, and paracord. The tools aren’t the highest quality and I would not recommend the compass or fire starter to be used as your primary tools, but for some people, I can see them being useful.
All in all, it’s a pretty device for the money.
5. MECO Quick Snap Clip Light (Cheapest)
Estimated Price: $9
My Review: For under $10 this hand crank flashlight that gets the job done. Cranking the device gives enough power to run the light for about an hour, which isn’t too bad.
the carabiner clip is a nice feature for those of you looking for a flashlight to attach to your bug out or get home bag (although I’d opt for something higher quality).
All in all, you don’t get any fancy features here, but you do get a capable light that serves its purpose. This wouldn’t be my first choice but it is a good value.
6. Ivation Wind Up Powered Lantern
Estimated Price: $40
My Review: Hand Crank Lanterns are great for illuminating large areas, whether it be indoors or outdoors. The lantern I recommend, the Ivation Hand Crank Lantern.
This is one of my favorite emergency lanterns because has a built-in radio and can be used as a spotlight (has 2 power settings). It can also be also be used a red SOS strobe light and an alarm siren.
Its large capacity 1000 mAh battery is also capable of charging mobile devices, so you won’t have to worry about your phone going dead while camping or during an emergency situation.
Whether you’re camping, hiking, in an emergency, or just enjoying the outdoors, the Ivation Hand Crank LED Camping Latnern with Flashlight, SOS Siren, Light, AM/FM Radio, and emergency charger is a great buy.
In the rest of this article, I’ll share with you my favorite solar, hand crank, rechargeable, shake, keychain, and wind up flashlights.
I’ll also show you a cool product, called the Red Cross Blackout Buddy. This is a great emergency flashlight for power outages.
ThorFire LED Camping Lantern Flashlight (with USB Charger)
Being an avid camper myself I couldn’t leave this product off the list. The top of the lantern has a loop on it so you can hang it up in your camp and actually be able to see as your getting ready for bed. This little light has a lot provides a TON of utility considering its price tag. I attached a video below. If you want to see how bright it is and how it functions I recommend skipping to around 0:40 in the video.
One thing about this light that really stands out to me is the collapsible design. This light won’t take up much space in your go bag or emergency supplies stockpile. Along with being both a flashlight and a lantern you can also use it to change your phone in case of an Emergency.
- Has a ton of utility
- Can charge phones and other devices
- Flashlight and lantern are both bright
- Hanging clip
- 300 mAh Battery is pretty small.
Dorcy 41 Battery Powered Emergency Flashlight
As I said above, a battery powered flashlight is ideal in many cases. There is no work involved, all you need to do is turn it on and replace the batteries everyone now and then. They are usually very bright and depending on the product have a long battery life.
The flashlight I’m going to recommend here is waterproof, LED, has a carabineer clip, and is very cheap. I chose to recommend a cheap one so you could buy enough for everyone in your family, or have them different locations/vehicles. You can see the Dorcy 41-2150 through the link above.
It is lightweight (0.28 pounds) and made with shock absorbing rubber. The design also provides a slip resistant grip.
It is great for both commercial and residential use. Having a flashlight that floats is ideal for many types of emergencies, including hurricanes or floods.
The Carabineer clip allows you to easily attach it to your backpack or belt. It comes in an assortment of colors, so you can even get a different color for everyone in the family.
It comes with 3 AA batteries (gives 8.75 hour run time) which is very nice considering the price point of this product.
This product is backed by Dorcy’s 1 year limited warranty.
- Carabiner Clip
- Shock Absorbing Rubber
- Batteries Included
- Light Weight
- Batteries Required
OxyLED Diving Flashlight (Solar Powered)
Solar powered flashlights are great, especially in remote locations where conventional light sources are not available. They look very similar to regular flashlights, but the way the function is very different.
They work by capturing solar energy from the sun and storing it in a rechargeable battery. They typically have an effective illumination range of about 50 meters.
These types of flashlights are used in many countries where no power grid has been established. There are no batteries required, so they are an effective light source for a very long period.
The solar powered flashlight I recommend can be found here. It has 7 lighting modes and can be used as a strobe light. You can also charge it with a USB cable. The USB cable can also be connected from the flashlight to your phone, so you’ll essentially have a solar powered cell phone charger.
- Great for Remote Locations
- Sustainable Light Source
- Automatically Charges
- Long Charge Time
- Limited Output
Futuresky 6 in 1 Life Saver (Best Flashlight for Car)
The emergency car flashlight I recommend can be found here. When selecting the best car flashlight there are a few things you want to look for.
First, you need to think about what situations you might face while in your car, and about things in your car that could pose a problem after an accident or emergency.
If you’re in a car accident your seat belt might malfunction, making it impossible to undo the seatbelt harness. The seatbelt cutter on this flashlight will come in handy in this situation.
As I said above, if you find yourself in a situation where your car is being surrounded by water, you might night be able to open the doors or windows. Thankfully, The Futuresky Car Safety Hammer has a window breaker, which will allow you to easily and safely get away from a potentially life threatening situation.
I could go on and on about this survival flashlight for your car, but I recommend just reading more and customer reviews through the link above.
It also has a whistle, magnet, and alarm lamp.
Here is a video that describes some of the features of the flashlight.
- Multi-functional Tool
- Window Breaker
- Car Hammer
- Seat Belt Cutter
- Limited Beam Strength
Red Cross Blackout Buddy (Emergency Nightlight)
I really like the Red Cross Blackout Buddy. It is more of an emergency nightlight, and does have an on/off nightlight option. If the power in your home goes out, the Blackout Buddy will automatically come on.
This will allow you to find other handheld flashlights or tools you need. It’s also a good flashlight for kids because if the power goes out they won’t be scared.
Its rechargeable battery remains charged through a wall outlet. It is rated to provide a 4 hour charge (however many users have noted it lasted much longer for them). You can read more reviews and/or buy the Red Cross Blackout Buddy here.
Here is a video so you can learn more about the Blackout Buddy.
- Can Be Used as Nightlight
- Automatically Comes On
- Compact and Slim Design
- Consistently Charged Through Wall Outlet
- Does Not Replace Traditional Flashlight
Streamlight Nano Light (Keychain Flashlight)
Keychain flashlights are great because they are small and portable, and will be you anytime you have your keys. The keychain flashlight I recommend below is great because it is very inexpensive and has a 100,000 hour lifetime high power LED light. It is powered by 4 small alkaline batteries that provide an 8 hour battery life.
You can also hook this small flashlight up to your backpack, zipper, clothing, or other items. This nano flashlight is also so small you can easily put it in a pocket.
Keychain flashlights are also great for trying to find the door keyhole in the dark.
You don’t need anything fancy, the keychain light I recommend here is very cheap.
Or a pink keychain light here for the ladies.
- Usually Have it on You
- Helps Find Keyholes
- Very Small
- Weak Beam
- Limited Battery Life
Aennon LED Light (Headlamp)
Headlamps, often referred to as head flashlights, are great because they allow you to work hands free. If you’re working on something that requires two hands, they are almost a must have.
You can find the Aennon LED headlamp I recommend here. It’s very inexpensive and gets the job done. The bulb tilts 90 degrees, allowing you to angle the light wherever you need.
Its 30 Lumen bulb provides great visibility for up to 164 feet, with 4 different light modes to choose from. It’s a great light to take on walks or runs. It’s also a good headlight for hunting, fishing, cycling, or just to add to your emergency kit.
When selecting a head flashlight, it’s important to select one that adjusts to the size of your head and has a snug comfortable fit. When you’re wearing it you don’t want to get that “head squeeze” feeling.
Another big plus about the Aennon headlamp is it has a 100 percent money back guarantee. If you don’t love it for any reason, send it back to the company for a full refund.
- Work Hands Free
- 4 Light Modes
- Money back guarantee
- Batteries Included
- Not waterproof (it is water resistant)
ECOCentricNOW (Shake Flashlight)
I’ve had a few shake flashlights in my time. They are pretty cool and are great for providing a sustainable light source during emergencies or power outages. It has a maximum light duration of 2 hours and can easily be recharged by shaking.
The product called I recommend called the Shake Light 40 can be found here. It provides an 8ft diameter beam, 75 feet (22m) illumination range, and 25 lumen output.
This product is small, compact, impact resistant, and durable.
- Sustainable Light Source
- No Batteries Required
- Battery Life Diminishes Over Time
Final Thoughts and Considerations
Having one or of a combination of the products on this list will increase your readiness for any situation and give you peace of mind. More importantly, they could save your life or the life of someone you love. Thanks for visiting my website, feel free to leave a comment below if you have tried any of these products or want to see a product added to the list.
How Do Hand Crank Flashlights Work?
Cranking the flashlight spins a magnet within a wire coil. The continuous passing of these surfaces causes electrons to be pulled from the magnetic field, creating electricity. The charge is then passed through the wire coil to the battery or capacitor, where it is stored. The amount of power generated varies, but typically about 1 minute of cranking with give about 30 minutes of light.
Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines that specialized in Mortars. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, hiking, running, shooting guns, and reviewing gear. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. We are currently looking for former Marines to join the team who are interested in writing about tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. For more information about us or joining the team, check out the “About Us” tab.